Welcome! My name is Michael Gilday and I am a Short Track Speedskater from Yellowknife, NWT, Canada. I currently train at the National Training Centre in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. I've created this blog primarily to let family and friends know about competitions and travel. I also hope to educate a bit about short track and maybe even entertain. Enjoy!

Friday, February 27, 2009

A Rant

It was cold yesterday in Calgary. It wasn’t ridiculously cold, only about –25 or so, but it was cold enough that the good old van wouldn’t start. Now don’t get me wrong, I love that van. It has been a great vehicle for a long time, and still is a great vehicle. The fact that it wouldn’t start wasn’t an enormous surprise as I had neglected to plug it in the night before not realizing it would be so cold the next day.

So as I sat in the car running the battery down and praying it would start so that I wouldn’t have to miss my physio appointment (I did by the way), and being mad that I would miss physio, a thought occurred to me. I wished that I wouldn’t have to use a car anymore. Earlier that morning I had used my bike. I just walked outside, jumped on and rode away. The bike didn’t care that it was –25. In fact I doubt that would have changed if it was –50 or +50 even. My bike works no matter what the conditions outside. Sure it was cold outside but if you dress for the weather its not that bad at all. I personally find it very enjoyable and it costs me almost nothing. I bought my commuting bike for 50 bucks. Since then I have put ZERO dollars into it in three years. The car on the other hand (again its great and I realize cars have taken me to a lot of cool things/places) cost me (in the last year, according to my CO-OP membership annual thingy) almost $800 in gas. That number is probably more if you count the other stations I have filled at. We barely use the car. Maybe once or twice a week each between my sister and I. Imagine if you drive every day for 30 mins to work and back!! When I have to plug it in, there is an unknown amount of power just flowing away for hours on end. I’m sure its more than if you just left your lights on in the living room all day and night. Those are only two examples and I didn’t even include the invisible cost of emissions. I guess what I’m trying to say is wouldn’t it be great if everyone lived in a place where you could ride to work/school/the store/other stuff easily and quickly. I recognize that cities and urban sprawl have made this almost completely impossible for the vast majority of the North American population, but imagine the individual savings. In today’s society, where eco-friendly is trendy would it be that tough to tell people that they could save thousands of dollars, get in shape and help the environment all at the same time?? People pay big money to join gyms and get in shape. By riding a bike to work, you pay nothing, get in shape and get the satisfaction of knowing you are doing good. Somebody should package that up in a fancy ad campaign and call it the Velo Diet. Take that Atkins, South Beach and Jenny Craig. Anyways, I know I’m not going to change the world here, and that the car is not going away. I even know I will use a car probably thousands of times more before I die. The car is not going away, it would just be great if we didn’t have to depend on it so much. That’s just my two cents anyways.

On the skating front, we had our last on ice workout at the Oval of the season today. We are off to Montreal for trials on Sunday while Jon and the Jesses head to Vienna on Saturday for Worlds. Expect some updates next week and during trials.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

General Mills Aspiring Olympians Program

General Mills has recently launched their Aspiring Olympians program website. You can visit it at www.everydaycelebrations.ca/aspiringolympians or www.generalmillsathletes.ca. You can also join the facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=54029287372#/group.php?gid=54029287372. I will have more details coming up in the following weeks about how this website will work. But here is a sneek peek summary: Watch for specially marked boxes of General Mills cereal to appear in your favorite grocery store starting in March. Purchase one of these fine products and then go to the website. Once there, you can enter the donation code and pick which athlete you would like General Mills to donate $1 to. This is where I need your help. When you enter the donation code would be great if you could pick me! I know, I know shameless plug, but lets face it I'm not writing this so that I can ask you to pick someone else. Thanks in advance for your support and watch this blog for more info about the Aspiring Olympians program coming soon.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Dresden is Awesome!

Even though I obviously won’t be posting this from the plane (although soon I might be able too), I am writing it on the plane back to Calgary from Dresden. According to the map on the plane, we just passed over Reykjavik and are traveling towards Greenland. But do you even care about where I won’t be when you are reading this? I doubt it. So on to the stuff that you might care about, or at least be interested in (at least I would assume so if you take the time to check this blog out…).

So World Cup #6. I didn’t update each racing day because we had to pay for the internet and it was a bit of a precious resource. So I’ll summarize. This weekend was a bit different, as the top three men and top two women weren’t with us. The racing on Friday was average ending with a trip to the repechage for me, Laurie Marceau, Marc-Andre Monette and Alex Boisvert-Lacroix in one of our distances. Everyone else qualified in both of their distances. Saturday was another up and down day. The obvious high was the fact that we had three men in the 1500m A final (myself (5th), Remi Beaulieu (3rd) and M-A Monette (DQ)). Unfortunately the race didn’t play out as well as we would have liked and we only came away with one medal, a bronze for Remi. The other high for the day was our relay. Our team consisted of Guillaume Bastille, Alex, Remi and myself. None of us are going to World Championships, but we still managed to stay right with the Koreans in one of the faster races this season. This was an excellent semi final for us as none of the four had much experience in bigger relays. The lows for the day included, Francois Hamelin being involved in a brutal crash with an American skater. He ended up with a lot bruising on his left thigh, a totalled suit and also had his bell rung a bit. He felt a lot better the next day and should be back soon. M-A Monette also went down in the A final in a bit of a cluster between myself and the Korean skater Park Jin-Hwan and ended with an ankle injury that also kept him out of the rest of the weekend. The other low was the women being DQed in their relay semi. Sunday was a new day, but didn’t really bring much in the way of good skating. I went out in the repechage final of the 500m. We only had one skater in the semis and none in a final (minus our relay final). This was Marie-Andree Mendes-Campeau and she ended off with an excellent 5th place considering the 500 is not her specialty. We had a good opportunity to redeem the day with a good relay, but we fell early in the race and spent the rest of the time playing catch-up only to finish 4th by about 5m. We did secure the overall World Cup title in the relay though by making the final so this was a small consolation.

Freiberger Arena in Dresden

Sunday night we had the season ending banquet. I had to be a bit late though because I was selected for doping control. After a disappointing relay, the last thing I wanted to do was go and pee in a cup, especially after I had just gone to the bathroom right before the relay. But you gotta do what you gotta do so off I went. What could have been a ten minute procedure turned into a two hour waiting game in a small room in the very back of the arena. But luckily for me I wasn’t the only one who couldn’t pee on demand so it wasn’t that boring. I finally made it to the banquet only about a half an hour late, After a quick dinner and some awards, we tried to get a dance party going. It turned out to be pretty hard but we managed to haul a few people up.

View from my hotel room window in the early evening.

All in all, Dresden was awesome (the results weren’t stellar so I mean this in a non results based way). The food was great (in my opinion!!), the hotel was comfortable and the arena was phenomenal. This was the first short track World Cup that Germany had hosted and they did an excellent job. Everything ran on time, transportation was amazing and it is also a very beautiful city. I also found everyone to be very hospitable and nice. They would help you with anything. I hope that they will bid again so that we can return there again someday soon! The other thing that made a big difference in this being a very successful world cup was the crowd. Even though there weren't a ton of them (about 1000) they made it for lack of size in volume. These were the most vocal fans I've seen at a world cup. There were tons of Germany flags, microphones, and big groups of the crowd even lit up some sparklers for the relay final. Germans love their sport!

Biking around Dresden on an afternoon off

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The countdown is on...365 days to go!

One year until the Olympic games. And I'm in Dresden, Germany for the final World Cup of the season with beautiful and intelligent Jessica and Laurie typing out a blog before racing gets underway tomorrow morning. Is there a better place to be? 

The top three men and top two women went home on Monday to prepare and 5 of us travelled over. Everyone is over jet lag now and training has been going well. The rink here is brand spanking new, and the ice is in really good shape. Ridiculous amounts of grip, but its better to have more grip than less. Minus the fact that the hotel room are extremely small, Alex Boisvert can almost touch both walls at the same time, everything is really good here. Remi, myself and Katherine Reutter from the US rented some bikes the other day and did a little tour of Dresden, checking out some of the famous old buildings that were destroyed during the fire bombing in world war II but have since been rebuilt. I would post up some photos, but I forgot the cord to connect my camera to the computer. 

Distances for this weekend:
Jesscia Hewitt: 500m 1000m
Val Lambert: 500m 1000m
Anne Maltais: 500m 1000m
Marie-Eve Drolet: 1500m 500m
Laurie Marceau: 1500m 500m
Marie-Andree Mendes-Campeau: 1500m 500m

Michael Gilday 1500m 500m
Alex Boisvert-Lacroix: 500m 500m
Remi Beaulieu: 1500m 1000m
Guillaume Bastille: 500m 1000m
Marc-Andre Monette 1500m 500m
Francois Hamelin: 1000m 500m

365 days to go, the countdown is down.
Lightweight baby!!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

One month left...

The world cup circuit resumed this weekend. Unfortunately, due to events outlined in previous posts, I'm not there. But that doesn't mean I'm doing nothing. I have been in Calgary with the rest of the team preparing for the final push through the last month of the racing season. Starting last week, our team will be splitting up faster than a couple married at a Las Vegas casino and hopping around the world for different competitions. Last weekend, Jess H, Jess G, Marie Eve and Jon took off for World Cup 5 in Sofia, Bulgaria. Tomorrow, I will be flying to Dresden, Germany to join them for World Cup 6 while Jess G flies home to prepare for individual glory at the World Championships. While Jess H, Marie, Jon and I are on our way home in a week and a bit, Liam, Richard, Tyler and Gabby will arriving in Harbin, China for World University Games. Once they return, we will have one week together for final tune-ups before the Euros, plus the Jesses and Jon head to World Champs and the rest of us head to Montreal for the final National Team selections. A crazy month of travel when you look at it from everyones schedule, but its a good amount of racing for each person and a good way to finish the season. I'll update next from Dresden, hopefully with some good pics and also a good story about my flight over in first class (hopefully!!). If anyone has any good strategies for getting upgraded my back would greatly appreciate them if you could share them with me!